Two Classic German Cars and the American Who Made Them Happen
German-made cars always have been some of the most durable and innovative in the international market. Manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes have become synonymous with speed, exceptional engineering and longevity.
When BMW and Mercedes engineers promote their newest creations, it seems as though they were born to eat, sleep and breathe car designing. Although Mercedes and BMW are thoroughly German, an American helped create two of their most iconic models.
The Best German-Made Cars
Max Hoffman was an automobile importer during the 1950s. He was well known for his paperless contracts that were signed with handshakes and always upheld.
His Austrian heritage and his straightforward attitude soon won him the trust of both BMW and Mercedes. The companies began asking him what types of cars might become popular in the United States, leading to the production of two new models that have since had a tremendous impact on the industry: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the BMW 507. In a recent Ask Men article, both of these models were ranked among the top-10 German cars of all time.
1. Mercedes-Benz 300SL
In the years after World War II, the U.S. car market exploded. Road trips swung into popularity and cars became a new kind of status symbol for Americans.
Foreign-car manufacturers that sought to capitalize on this new trend were invariably in contact with Max Hoffman. His contributions to the industry were so numerous and widespread that he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2003. By 1955, he was the official importer for Daimler-Benz.
Hoffman leveraged his position to suggest that Americans would enjoy a street version of the popular 300SL. Described as the mixture of a street car and a race car, the coupe could reach 160 mph.
It became a commercial success, and today the 300SL is one of the most collectible vehicles in the world due, in part, to its low production numbers. SLs in good condition can sell for upwards of $ 1 million.
2. BMW 507
Around the same time, Hoffman pitched an idea to BMW for a convertible that could compete against Jaguar. BMW loved the idea, but the project quickly spiraled out of control and became far too expensive to produce.
In the end, only 252 were built. The design of the car helped define the future of BMW, but the cost of production nearly bankrupted the company. Today, the 507 has a price tag of more than $1 million.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a millionaire to experience German-made cars!